BELFAST — Chief Deputy Jason Trundy hopes to be Waldo County’s next high sheriff after spending about 28 years as a law enforcement officer in the department. He is running as a Democrat.

If elected, he will succeed his boss, Jeffrey Trafton, who has been sheriff since 2014 and is retiring. Trafton has given his endorsement to Trundy.

Trundy has spent his entire career with the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. The East Belfast native started out as a part-time correctional officer, then became a patrol deputy. From there, he climbed through the ranks and worked as a criminal investigator, jail administrator and patrol lieutenant before landing his position as chief deputy eight years ago. He attended the FBI National Academy in 2018.

As a Waldo County native, Trundy believes he brings a unique and important perspective to the position and understands what it takes to make a living in the area. He also cites his experience in corrections, including operations at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast, which is a significant aspect of running the Sheriff’s Office.

“I think that understanding of the history of how we have gotten to where we are today and why we are where we are today, and how that system works, makes me the best candidate,” he said.

One of the most common concerns he hears about from residents around the county is traffic control, he said. With 22 sworn patrol officers, the Sheriff’s Office has a ratio of about one officer to 1,800 citizens, covering over 720 square miles. The department tries to be fiscally responsible while also remaining responsive to residents’ needs, he said.

Law enforcement looks different in a rural community, Trundy said, as opposed to a smaller municipal department covering less area where traffic enforcement efforts are more visible. Because the Sheriff’s Office covers so much more area, its officers are not as visible, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office has applied for a grant focusing on community policing efforts. If the office gets the grant, Trundy hopes to add two more patrol positions to its staff to alleviate under-staffing. Those officers would do primarily traffic work, which he said would result in more traffic stops.

The other major issue he sees in the county is substance use disorder and mental health issues. Every day officers respond to incidents in which they encounter people with substance use or mental health issues, he said, adding that these are the largest driving force in the criminal justice system.

“That’s why I firmly believe in employing a balanced approach of enforcement and encouraging recovery and prevention and trying to use as many approaches to address the substance use issues and community partnerships to try to address the mental health stuff,” he said. “We need to try anything and everything we can to make an impact on those.”

He hopes to put more emphasis on substance use prevention, he said. He hopes to partner with Belfast Police Chief Robert Cormier, who is introducing the Law Enforcement Against Drugs program into local schools as an intervention tool to prevent kids from going down a path that leads to substance use. He hopes to send the Sheriff’s Office’s school resource officer at Mount View to that training.

The Sheriff’s Office is fortunate to have people in the community who will work with it to help keep the community safe, he said.

“I really, truly believe that community safety is a community project,” he said. “It’s something that we all need to be involved in. And we in Waldo County, we are incredibly blessed to have individuals and partner organizations that are extremely willing to work with us to fill gaps in service and try to help us wherever we might need something.”

He hopes that people understand that keeping the community safe is personal to him because it is where he lives, works and where he grew up, he said. It gives him a commitment to the community and its safety.

Trundy can be reached at 323-3708 or trundyforsheriff@gmail.com.

A debate between Trundy and his Republican opponent Todd Boisvert, hosted by The Republican Journal, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m., at the Searsmont Town Office meeting room at 37 Main St. South. Journal Editor William Carroll will moderate.